Photo: The Belmont School Administration Building
In an extraordinary action to stem the spreading Coronavirus pandemic in the Boston area, the Belmont School District is joining with five towns in the Middlesex County in closing their public schools for two weeks beginning Friday, March 13.
Belmont is collaborating with superintendents from Arlington, Bedford, Burlington, Lexington and Winchester after being “informed by our local boards of health, as well by expert epidemiologists who recognize that the time to act is now,” said a joint press release from the superintendents dated March 12
“We know we can have a greater and more positive impact on public health and safety if we do this together,” the release said.
The superintendents noted the joint closure may be extended or shortened at the direction of state authorities.
Belmont and the other schools are joining the rapidly growing “social distancing” movement “a term that epidemiologists are using to refer to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully stymie community transmission of the virus,” as described in The Atlantic.
Examples of “community mitigation strategies” include nearly all Boston area colleges and universities sending student home for the remainder of the school year, a growing number of businesses are asking employees to work from home and the cancellation of large gatherings from classical music concerts, lectures to sporting events from the professional level to high school championships.
“We do this out of an abundance of caution, particularly out of sensitivity to families and staff who have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications should they become infected,” said the superintendents.
“We also do not do this lightly, as we know that this will impose a hardship on families who do not have childcare options,” said the release.
The “timely and unified decision” to shut down public education for the fortnight comes a day after the first confirmed case of a Belmont resident infected with the Coronavirus was made public by the Belmont Health Department.